AUTHOR: Kita (Donna M.)
RATING: NC-17 for violence, DISTURBING imagery, references to het sex, and M/M slash.
SUMMARY: Angel`s thoughts and memories of blood of various sorts. Various. Sorts.
SPOILERS: Vague for everything, including the B:tVS movie.
DISCLAIMER: I don`t own any the characters mentioned in this fic. I make no profit off of them. I worship Joss as a malevolent god.
ARCHIVE: To lists, fine. Anyone else, please ask.
AUTHOR`S NOTES: This is what happens when you read too many Lucille Clifton poems and start to ponder television characters wayyyyy too much. Thanks to Jess and Lar for brutal betas. And to all the guys out there who may read this, I hope you`re not squicked too badly.
FEEDBACK: Oh, please.
"For we struggle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this world." Ephesians 6:2
Angel can remember the first time he ever smelled the Blood. The scent was sharp and clear, and not a wee bit muted by the stench of wet clay which surrounded the coffin. He clawed his way through rotting wood, past the slither of creatures which no longer startled or disgusted him, and into the frigid winter air.
She stood above him as he was reborn of the Earth, neither helping nor hindering his journey. And when he arose, caked in dirt and stinking of death, she smiled at his first words.
``I could smell them.``
Yes. Time and space measured by that scent, the number of moments since the last hunt, the distance till the next. In the years unfettered by morality and soul there were travels to alien continents, acquisition of wealth beyond measure, more infinitely talented sexual partners than his immortal mind can even recall. And all, and always secondary to the blood. The hunt. The kill.
Even now, when he only kills in self-defense, in the name of Justice or the Powers That Be, when he never drinks from those whose lives he snuffs out, when his refrigerator is filled mainly with the vital fluids collected from slaughterhouses, he still remembers that smell. That rush. That...simplicity and that clarity.
And all his notions of continuance, all his thoughts of time and place, all his memories of past and present day, remain bound together by that one constant, the ancient and immutable ribbon of warm, red blood.
Neither the passing of centuries nor the brand of madness have dimmed the memories of when she first began to bleed. She awoke one morning during her sixteenth year to find her bedsheets soaked in it, her thighs stained with it, and still this unchaste crimson continued to flow. And it would not stop, she could not make it stop, no matter how many cloths she pressed to her most secret place, no matter how many Hail Marys she whispered. She fell to her knees and asked God to take her, to just take her rather than punish her this way. It wasn`t her fault, the visions, the dreams, the *knowing*. And if she was going to be chosen for punishment, why did she have to bleed in such a sinful, shameful manner?
Her mother opened the door to the bedroom when Drusilla did not come down for chores, and found her there, kneeling in the puddle of her own blood. She closed the door again only to return moments later with a handful of clean linens and dark colored rags. ``It`s the curse of women, child. Place these inside your undergarments for the next week. And keep away from the men-folk now. They`ll know you`re ready.`` She stripped her bedding and did as she was bidden. For one week a month, she never looked a male in the eye again.
She discovered the pattern, finally. After six months, she could tell by the Moon when she would bleed. Learned how to fold the rags and how to wash them.
Learned that sometimes the visions were stronger when she bled. And sometimes, the bleeding was stronger with the visions.
She never did learn the connection.
She was eighteen when the vision of death found her. Told her of a mine`s collapse. Told her of the doomed men inside. She was eighteen when she tried to warn them, only to find pity in the eyes of her neighbors, and scorn in the eyes of her family. She was eighteen when her father slapped her across the mouth for daring to argue with him about tomorrow`s work. The blood welled up inside her cheek, and she swallowed it down. She was eighteen when her father was killed at the mine. And she was bleeding.
She stumbled into the church the day following his death, confessed her sins to the Priest with the Irish accent.
And he could smell her.
Drusilla had nine younger siblings. It took the Priest who was not a Priest a year to kill them all. Once a month one of the children would be found, white as cotton, with his throat torn out, all his blood neatly drained. And each time, Drusilla was bleeding. He could smell her. The tenth month brought Death to her mother. By the eleventh month, Drusilla had tried everything she could think of to stop the curse.
But there was nothing.
She knew he was coming for her, knew it when she dressed in white linen to take her Holy Vows, knew it when she placed the silver Crucifix around her neck, knew it when she once more knelt in her own blood to pray. Knew it would not be enough to keep him away.
And it was anti-climactic really, when he appeared in the shadows of the chancel, his hands stained with the blood of the Mother Superior and the other Sisters. He wasn`t at all what she had expected, not some demon from Hell, not some monster, not even Death. Just a man. And so she did not meet his gaze.
She still remembers being tied to the bed, being told over and over how beautiful she was, how rich and magnificent her blood was as it coursed between her spread legs. Remembers the tears on her cheeks, and the laughter in his voice. Remembers the Irish accent.
He chanted to her, he whispered from Psalms and Revelations. He tore the Crucifix off her neck and recited the Sacraments to her. And when he had drank from her blood, and ate from her body, and she hovered in a sweet place where her family called to her to join them, said `come now, child, come home, all is forgiven`, he finally did it.
There was pain and there was light and where there was once life, there was now Death in this bed.
She is fifty years older now, although she most certainly does not look it. And she lives with Death, although she calls him something different. And she does not bleed anymore from between her legs. But she wonders about it sometimes, still.
She sits now in a small wooden chair, with her knees pressed tightly together, and her hands clasped tightly in her lap. She is a good girl, she has always been a good girl, she will be a good girl tonight, she will not get up, will not leave this room, will not leave this chair. She will sit, and she will shut her eyes, and she will listen.
Listen while the Death she calls Daddy beats her William with a leather strap in the next room. Listen to the lash slice air and skin and bone. Listen to Angelus` breaths of exertion. Listen to William`s silence. He is always silent, and Daddy doesn`t like it. There are whispers in the silence, and they make Daddy afraid, and being afraid makes Daddy mad, and so he does not like silence. William does not hear the whispers, and Drusilla has always heard them and so they do not scare her. It is only Daddy who cannot stand the silence. So he fills it with shouts of pleasure and howls of rage, with the screams of his victims and his lovers and with the *whoosh* of leather on flesh.
But still none of it masks the sound of William`s blood. She can hear it, through walls and doors and her hands pressed over her own ears. She can hear it as it flows from wounds both freshly opened and long held, trickles along the wooden floorboards. It is fat, black spiders on spindly legs; it crawls beneath the crack in the bedroom door, it comes to pool at her feet. And it hisses and it curses and it whispers and it chuckles. And it tells her the Mysteries.
Much later, when Angelus is tired and William is bruised and raw but healing,
he comes to her. Stands in the doorway and winces. ``Will, my Will,`` she says, weeping pink blood tears, `` I don`t bleed from my secret place anymore.``
He chokes back the strange, uncharacteristic taste of bitterness in his mouth and gathers her in his embrace. Her small dagger clatters into a sticky red puddle on the floor as he lets the slashes on her wrists and arms and breasts press against his chest. Lets her tattoo his marble skin with her insides. And whispers so softly she is bound not to hear, ``Ah, Dru, you bleed enough already anyway.``
Both vampires remember the night she demanded they give her a child. ``I want to have a baby, Will, I want one and you will give it to me!`` Remember clearly how Angelus did not look up from his book, just smirked, licked his thumb and turned the page.
``We been through this, ya can`t have a baby, pet.``
Remember her satin clad foot stomping the wood floor, ``Why? Why not? Other girls do!``
Remember Angelus finally raising an eyebrow and his gaze. ``Other girls are na' *dead*, Dru.``
Remember the moment it finally dawned on her. Eyes wide as saucers, shimmering and blood rimmed. The blood. She didn`t bleed, she wasn`t alive. The blood meant she could bear children, *that* was the curse, that was the ``ready``, that was the *meaning*...And all this she had given up, and all this He had taken.
She hadn`t known! She had never known.
They had tied her to the bed for three days to prevent her from running into the sun. Angel still remembers her cries. And how that one and only time, he allowed her to curse him. The dolls came then. Soon they spoke to her too.
It has been over one hundred years, but he still regards that sin as the worst. The sin of Drusilla, of defiled innocence and stolen life.
It never ceases to amaze him how the passage of time changes so goddamned little. Even the Slayer`s notions were warped by foolish superstition and outdated creed. For all her prowess and otherworldly skill she was nonetheless a girl reared on Western sensibilities, and so once a month still bore the burden of secrecy and misplaced shame.
He was not allowed to touch her `there` when she bled. Somehow he knew that the fact he was a Vampire had no bearing on the advent of this little rule. Knew she simply believed it was unclean, and that there was nothing he would be able say or do which would convince her otherwise.
And truth be told, he would not have tried. Not with her. What right did he have to interfere with such an ancient and sacred force? He was unholy and undeserving and if she did not already know the source of her Power, well, he certainly did. Knew it was born of the wellspring of conception, the womb of Gaiea, the energy in turn of both Creatrix and Destructrix.
She admitted such to him, once, in the dark, in whispers. That she *felt* the presence of Vampires with a discomfort similar to monthly pains. That Angel was the only Vampire who did not cause her the same biological unease. Told him she had mentioned this to her first Watcher, who had not lived long enough to teach her the meaning. Told him in a small, soft voice that she wondered if this connection to Darkness meant she would never be able to bear children, should she even live long enough to consider the possibility.
He could offer her no comfort, no words of understanding, because it was not his place, and because he had no words to give. All he could think of was an ancient Native American belief... menstruating females were never allowed to physically handle a Warrior`s weapons. Not for the European notion that the women were somehow sullied, no, quite the opposite. It was believed that women who bled were at the height of their life-giving power, that this force would come through their hands, thus rendering the arrows and lances unable to cause death.
And wasn`t this true for Buffy? Didn`t she bleed and bleed in order to renew the life which he and others of his kind freely and continually cut down? Wasn`t the blood of her veins, the blood of her heart, and the blood of her womb somehow all the more sacred and potent given the nature of her existence?
And indeed, she was bleeding when she received her calling, bleeding when she bested the Master, bleeding when she staked her lover and sent him to Hell.
He thinks it`s terribly ironic, really, that it was *his* blood which had been ordained to open that portal, and his blood which was needed to close it. His blood is useless. Like all his fluids, it is barren and still, devoid of all essence of creation. Like him, it is dead. And it shames him, as much as anything else, that while the spilling of his blood was meant to destroy the world, it was the spilling of his cold and fruitless seed that so effortlessly destroyed hers.
Terribly ironic too that he thought to wear a condom that one ill-fated night, despite knowing he could never give her an illness, let alone a child. That he had to do it anyway, because he couldn`t stand the thought of his deadness inside of her. He imagined his semen clinging to her human warmth like some malevolent kudzu, embedding itself inside her spongy walls, smothering the life force there, the natural and supernatural sum and substance of her. Imagined it corrupting her goodness and innocence, her ancient calling, her body and her very soul.
And he couldn`t live with the possibility that she might stumble one night, might fall prey to some unnamed foe, and it would be because she carried some small part of him inside her, at her source, at the center of her power. In the end, of course, it was a pointless effort. He is an abomination to all things human and earthly and his plans and desires have no relevance. Like everything else about him, they bear no fruit.
And the passage of time changes so goddamned little. The blue eyed vampire still comes to him, sometimes. He is no longer William, and there are no more leather straps. There is no kneeling, and there is no bleeding, at least not of the old sort. Spike comes to him for no reason and every reason, Angel supposes, although he never really asks anymore. Just accepts his disconcerting presence in his kitchen some mornings, and his strangely comforting presence in his bed some nights. Accepts this like he accepts everything else, with the wordless understanding that he has no say in the events of this world. Lets the platinum vampire drink from him, lets him fuck him, lets him laugh at his clothes and his house and his vocation. Lets him fuck him some more.
Because Spike is barren too, except he does not care. Because Spike wears his pointless existence like a coat of armor and a point of pride. Because there is no taunting heartbeat, no mocking warmth. Because Spike is also cold and dead, and next to that alabaster chest, Angel does not have to be reminded of his own stillness.
And Spike never does say what it is he gains from their arrangement. Doesn`t say that he comes because Angel is the only other creature on the planet who remembers inky curls and splintered giggles with something akin to fondness. Comes because Angel has seen his birthplace and his deathbed; and so he too can call to memory the scent of stinking alleyways in Whitechapel as well as pillows covered in the petals of night blooming Jasmine. Doesn`t say he comes because Angel`s blood tastes like green apples, and smells like crushed orange leaves, because his eyes always remind him of the beginnings of Fall, and what Dru used to call the `sleep of the Flowers.`
Doesn`t tell him any of that. Just pushes his cock as far as it will go down Angel`s throat, and tosses back his head and thinks of Spring. And if he deigns to acknowledge the emptiness at all, he can fill it as he has always done. With French Fries and cigarettes and loud music, with all the blood he can take without setting off the alarm in his head. Angel`s blood, demon`s blood, and the monthly blood of young girls.
Angel smells that on him too sometimes. But he never mentions that either; although he has puzzled out the meaning from the sarcastic dropped hints, and the trickles of news from the Sunnydale front, and the tell-tale scent that clings to leather clothes and the full, red mouth.
And it`s only Angel`s soul that prevents him from doing the same. From pulling Cordelia to him that once a month time when he can smell her from the shelter of his office. From laying between a pair of slim, pale thighs and drinking his full of the life`s blood which can be taken and taken without ever injuring the giver. The New Improved Spike cannot finish the act with common brutality, but Angel could, oh yes he could, and he would, and he knows this, and so he doesn`t.
Some nights, after the vampire has left, and that luscious smell still clings to the pillows he kissed in sleep, and the towels he used after his shower and the shirt he left so casually on the floor, Angel gives in to the desire as much as he allows himself. Goes to the very back of his small fridge, pulls out the handful of plastic marked O+. Warms it in the microwave and sips it, sips it slowly, makes it last. Closes his eyes and cries a bit at the taste, the surrender, the unparalleled and accursed comfort. Tells himself it's better than the alternative. Of drinking from a neck, or a thigh, or a warm and willing cunt. Or of once again waking up to find himself chewing on his own arm.
Thinks of Spike`s sneer, and what he told him the one and only time Angel dared bring up the question. ``I come because you`re fucking easy to come home to. And so damned easy to leave.`` Remembers the door slamming shut, and the smell of winter outside. But it`s never really winter here, is it? That was Ireland, or England or Montana, and it`s just him getting all confused again. Lost inside the twisted, overgrown maze of too many recollections, and his primal sensory memory coating everything inside him with its own peculiar perfume.
It smells like winter. It smells like buried things and crushed flowers and a bit like decay. It smells a lot like blood.
And he wonders what it will be like, finally, when the Powers ordain that he has suffered enough, or simply decide he is of no more use to their cause. When he becomes mortal, and fallible and finite. When distance will be judged by how much effort he will have to expend to cross it. When he will regard the passage of time by cells dividing and dying, by marks on the backs of his hands and wrinkles in the corners of his eyes. He wonders if he will ever really be able to *do* it.
He had twenty-four hours to practice with Buffy, in the Day That Never Was. But that was fairy-tale time, wasn`t it? It was a cocoon of safety, a haven of love and lust, and it was not real. It did not involve leaving a bed, a house, a pair of arms. What would have come next?
Could he have let her fight, let her continue to shed her faultless blood while he stood idly by? Would he come resent his weaknesses and her strengths? Would he grow to hate having to eat, and sleep and fucking *breathe*? Could her presence be enough to simply forget all it took to earn this peace; all the death and destruction and decay that occurred around him and was caused by him? Could he have looked at her one day, pregnant with his child and not had nightmares about some hybrid demon-embryo clawing its way out of her shredded womb?
Could he sit next to her those six days out of each thirty when she would not be touched, and not wish to the gods he could still.... scent her?
That was it finally. Yes. That was it. Would he stop remembering the Hunger?
When it does happen to him, finally, will he forget? Will he forget what blood looks like when it wells up in two neat little holes on the side of a bared neck? Will he forget the sound of it as it hits wooden floors and runs down pale, naked thighs? Will he forget the taste of it, filled with fear and anger and adrenaline, pulsing with life, refusing to slow? Will he forget the smell of it, pouring from an enemy`s wound, a victim`s throat, a young girl`s lost innocence?
And he simply cannot imagine this, cannot fathom an existence without this duality, this ache, this horrid and gorgeous need. And he cannot bear to wonder what would tie all his memories together once it is gone.
Can`t conceive of calendars and watches and alarm clocks, of homes and hearths with white fences, of little boys with dirty blond hair and guileless brown eyes whose birthdays will mark the passage of his years. Can`t really for a moment truly believe that such will ever be his.
But he cries over it still. Lets the useless drops of salt and blood fall into his mug. Just goes ahead and drinks that too.
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